LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Hispanic Heritage Month is officially underway.
The month-long celebration runs from September 15 to October 15, and local leaders are making sure to recognize the contributions Hispanic-American have made in Southwest Florida.
On Tuesday, Lee County Commissioners formally proclaimed the month-long celebration.
"The Board of Lee County Commissioners proclaims September 15 through October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month in Lee County," said Commissioner Brian Hamman, Chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioner, during a board meeting.
Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates Hispanic cultures and the contributions Hispanic-Americans have made to enrich our nation.
The first national observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, as designated by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to become National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Community leaders in Southwest Florida say they are excited that this month is now being recognized locally.
"Nearly 30-percent of the population here in Lee County is Hispanic, and it's growing, so it meant a lot to be recognized," said Carmen Salomé, Chairwoman of the Hispanic Vote of Southwest Florida.
This year's theme is 'A History Serving Our Country' — honoring the men and women who have served in the country's Armed Forces.
On Tuesday, elected officials and community leaders gathered in Bonita Springs to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month.
The celebration was hosted by AdVenture and the Outreach Committee from the City of Bonita Springs.
"My nearest and dearest friends truly are in the Hispanic and Latino community in Bonita Springs, I would do anything for them, they would do anything me," said Peter Simmons, Mayor of Bonita Springs.
Mayor Simmons says the outreach committee works with diverse communities year-round identifying needs and finding solutions.